Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Notes from Leadership for the Digital Age with Alan November - Day 2

Notes from day 2 of  TASA's Leadership for the Digtial Age with Alan November. For my notes on Day 1 of this academy, which took place January 15, 2014, click here.

Notes from the Discussion

We no longer have to go to school if we want to learn.

edX -www.edex.org - MOOC site, courses are all free, people who teach the courses are from Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, University of Texas, etc. (Click here to see all of them.)

Coursera is another option for higher ed MOOCS.

November's son is taking courses through edX and will get an associate's degree from Harvard. Student needs 32 credits from another university, and 32 credits from Harvard. More info on Harvard online degree programs and certificates.

Students can graduate from high school with dual credit then get the rest of their college experience entirely online.

Swivl - Apparatus that lets you use an iPad to video record a lecture or presentation. Moves the camera to follow presenter around the room. (Use for teachers and students! Imagine sharing student presentations to the world!)

High school library prediction - Librarians will become resources to help students find online courses. Part of function of library will be to become an online learning center.

Close to 10% of students got into MIT by excelling in a MOOC. Did not go through traditional admissions process as we know it. For example, this young man from Mongolia.

Are we going to prevent, ignore, or encourage students getting college credit for nothing?

We should be advertising these opportunities to students!

Number one skill for being successful in learning: the ability to self-assess
Number one skill for being successful in teaching: ability to give quality feedback on student work.

When focusing on 1:1, iPads, etc: Focus on teaching teachers to give better feedback and students to self-assess instead of the technology. A participant in the room shared about an 8th grade Engilsh teacher using Google docs and going paperless - students walk in and go immediately to their Chromebooks because they want to see the feedback the teacher has given them. Now it is spreading because of the quality of teacher feedback.

Districts Sharing Ideas

Be positive with feedback! What you can say:
  • I like that because...
  • Have you thought about...
  • I have a resource for you...
Distict #1: Principal of an elementary school shared that as part of their 1:1 initiative, they want to create a bank of lessons created by students based on http://clubacademia.org/ which Alan shared last time.
Speaking of, the 17 year old creator of http://clubacademia.org/ wants to give away her shell to any school that wants to use it, and then will link all of the shells together to make a global network of student lessons. 
Good apps for creating tutorials: Explain Everything, Screen Chomp, Educreations
District #2:  Revisiting their BYOD initiative. They brought in a panel of students to ask about their experience with BYOD. They videoed the students responses so they can use it in further PD with their administrators and teachers. Some students did not know that they were allowed to bring devices even three years after the initiative began. In other places it's off and running. It was found they were using it more at the middle schools than at the high schools.
Lessons learned from above district: Don't jump in to quickly. Pick teachers who are already strong in their content. If you push teachers to do things before they are ready, it can be detrimental to them and their students. Also, realize teachers who have been successful in the current system, with high test scores, etc, may be more resistant.
District #3: Next Generation Digital Classroom - moving away from laptops and desktops. Have narrowed down to four vendors to try iPads, Android tablets, Windows 8 tablets, Chromebooks. Teachers are applying to be the one teacher per school who pilots the devices at their campus, plus 8 librarians across the district. Goals based on Project Red and SAMR. Pilot will be evaluated for what tech works and doesn't, learning environment/classroom space to incorporate best instructional practice, and PD needs, all of which will be approached from an action research standpoint. Teachers will write their own questions and goals that they want to meet each fall and spring. They will complete video showcases at the end of each year to use as a resource for curating best practices through the project and informing future steps across the district.
  • November suggests Stratosphere which talks about how to evaluate technology projects.
District #4: Instituting a technology apps elective for middle school students next year. (Have only had fine arts electives up to this point.) In individual classrooms, teachers are working with students who are ahead of the rest of the class to create a library of tutorials for other students. In library they are using stop motion technology to develop stories. Doing cross-curricular projects with students in other grades. Also starting a middle school coding class.

  • Another participant suggested code.org which has a middle school coding curriculum
  • November suggested Scratch; you can start with other kids' created programs and tweak them instead of starting from scratch (ha ha no pun intended!)
  • November's podcast of an interview with Dr. Mitch Resnik, creator of Scratch.
District #5: Kindergarten teachers started class Twitter accounts! Here is Mrs. Cook's Twitter. They follow other Kinder classes and have connected with a class in Korea.

More Discussion Notes

November suggests no more technology workshops. Integrate the technology into core content PD. Also tell teachers principal will show up 30, 60, and 90 days after PD to look for specific strategies that were communicated in the workshop. Example: Working toward self assessment of math. Are teachers using Wolfram Alpha, Khan Academy, Think Through Math, etc when principal observes. Then assess if the staff development paid off based on student achievement data. Workshop needs measurable goals, follow-up, and results based on data.  The key is the principal holding teachers accountable.

Often, the technology coordinator/director is reporting to the WRONG person. Org charts need to change.

November advises superintendents to have a student advisory panel that they meet with them once a month. Ask them things like:

  • What's the best thing technology has done for your learning?
  • Is there anything you've learned with technology that you could have done without technology?
  • What are you doing outside of school on your own that helps you learn?
Are we showing kids how to do really good searching? Ask them to find an image representing American History. They will get this. But with a tweak, we can show them how to get this or this.

Key to getting workshops/PD to have effect in classroom: Have the workshop presenter/leader come and teach an actual class with actual students. All teachers watch the workshop leader run the class. Important for modeling classroom management. Make sure to debrief afterwards. (Can also use Swivl or something like it to record and archive master teachers.)

Here's an idea to empower kids: Let them lead workshops for their peers. For example, an after-school club for using Minecraft to create virtual environments. Check out this Egyptian Pyramid! (NOTE: Teacher does not need to know how to use Minecraft to let kids use it for producing a project.)

November says if he could teach teachers ONE thing, it would be how to be life-long learners with today's tools. Twitter is his favorite tool for professional learning. Every teacher should be following teachers who are sharing what they are doing. Then, if you are lucky, all of your teachers will have a blog. Use every bit of social media that you can. Pinterest. Instagram. Diigo.

November makes his doctoral students join Diigo and participate in a Diigo group he created for them. Now he can see what they are researching and reading and the students can see what each other is reading and they can converse about it. Can set it to email you when people add bookmarks. (Great way to build community among faculty.) Here is November's Diigo library. (And here is mine. I LOVE Diigo!)
Leaders should be creating community using tools like Diigo groups!
PD Tip - Start with something teachers love to teach instead of a tool the presenter thinks is cool. Example: Tweak one of their favorite lessons. Hint: Look for hashtags that will help them get more info for the assignment. You can teach people the mechanics of a tool, but you also need to help them make connections to their curriculum. Give it context. Start with the question: "What's your favorite assignment? Let's redo it."

Principals need to make heroes out of their teachers. Start a podcast where you interview them and get them to tell their stories!

Homework Before Day 3 in May

The First Five Days - What would you do in the first five days of school to teach kids how to learn to learn?

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Equality and Equity in Education

Original Source Unknown.
Please let me know if  you know the original source!
Earlier this month, I participated on a panel about BYOD Equity at SXSWedu. In the weeks leading up to the panel, the graphic to the right came across my radar. I thought it was an excellent visual of the difference between equality and equity. I used it when introducing our SXSWedu panel, and it seemed to resonate with others as well, as it was photographed and Tweeted during the presentation several times.

Last Thursday while I was in a breakout session during our Spring TEC-SIG meeting, session presenter Wendy Jones referenced this graphic as she discussed teacher professional development and access to technology. Wendy had seen it when attending the aforementioned panel at SXSWedu.

After Wendy mentioned the graphic in the TEC-SIG session, other attendees requested that I Tweet it out. I did so, and after being re-tweeted by a couple of folks, it has gone viral and still continues to be passed around via Twitter. Check out the number of re-tweets and favorites on the Tweet below!

Why has this graphic resonated with people? I think it's because it captures in a simple picture concepts that are difficult to communicate with words: Equality connotes treating everyone the exact same way regardless of need while equity references providing each individual with the resources they need to operate in as level a playing field as possible.

By providing all of the kids in the picture with the same box, in other words, treating them equally, we give the tallest student help he does not need, the middle student exactly what he needs, and the shortest student gets closer to the goal but still does not have his needs entirely met. If we look at each student as an individual through the lens of equity, we see in this case our tallest student does not need extra support, we are meeting our middle student's needs, and we need to give an extra boost to our shortest kid. Suddenly, everyone is successful.

Equality and equity are not the same thing; a focus on equity will probably achieve the ultimate purpose of equalizing the playing field in education. When we say we want all students and educators to be successful and have equal opportunities, equity is probably where we need to focus.

Are You Planning for Equality or Equity?

As I have contemplated the resonance of this graphic over the past few weeks, I've begun to think about how we approach decision making in education, especially when it comes to large-scale endeavors. And I've begun wondering about areas where we usually talk equality but instead might do better to talk about equity. Here is what I have come up with so far:

  • Replacing technology for teachers: Does everyone need the exact same (equal) setup? Or do different teachers/grade levels/subjects need different types of technology (equitable)  to meet their learning goals? (Thanks Wendy Jones for planting this one in my head!)
  • Replacing technology for students or offering it for the first time: If you are moving into or moving on with 1:1 deployments for students, are you providing the exact same device for all students K-12 (equal) or have you taken into account their unique needs based on their developmental stages and the learning they need to accomplish (equity)?
  • Professional development: Is every teacher going to be expected to complete the exact same sessions (equal) or are you providing multiple tracks or choice based on their individual development needs (equity)?
  • Planning new buildings: Are you building your next elementary/middle/high school campus on the exact same template that has been used for other campuses on your district (keeping it "fair" and "equal") or are you looking at the latest research on best practices for learning spaces and planning accordingly? Consider that you could at some point retrofit existing campuses to aim for equity.
  • Course offerings and graduation plans for students: Do we need to provide the same course plans for every student in order to prepare them for college (equality) or should we be providing multiple, flexible options to prepare them for what they are interested in after high school (equity)?

I know I am missing some important topics regarding equality and equity. What are your thoughts on these concepts in education? What other areas do we need to contemplate through the lens of equity? I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments so we can continue to learn together.

 All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

BYOD Equity Panel at #SXSWedu 2014

On March 5, 2014, I was privileged to moderate and participate on a panel on Bridging the Digital Divide with BYOD Equity at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, Texas.

The panelists were a true joy to plan and present with. I highly suggest you follow each of them on Twitter to learn more about best practices in educational technology. My fellow panelists were:

  • Jessica Herring, 7th Grade English teacher and practitioner of BYOD in the classroom at Benton Middle School outside of Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Dr. Tim Clark, Coordinator of Instructional Technology for Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. Forsyth County Schools was an early trailblazer in BYOD initiatives and is looked to nationwide as a resource for how to implement BYOD and implement it well.
  • Dr. Michael Mills, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Arkansas. Michael keeps his hand in K-12 education by partnering with schools and teachers on BYOD integration projects. He also conceived of this panel and brought us all together to participate on it, for which I am truly thankful.

What I loved about this panel is it stretched the conversation about BYOD Equity beyond just devices. Of course access to devices is important when we are asking families to send technology to school with their children, but there are so many more equity issues involved. Some of the topics our panel touched on were:

  • Internet access outside of school
  • Support for and understanding of BYOD from school and district administrators
  • Acceptance and sound implementation of BYOD by classroom teachers
  • Ongoing, robust professional development for teachers
  • Clear communication with families of students
  • Support from the greater community in which the school or district operates

The panel was audio recorded, and I will be sure to include the recording here once it is posted. 

I am thankful that my Central Texas edtech colleague Diana Benner attended our panel and posted notes she took during the discussion to her blog

As I looked through Tweets later on the day of the session, this one really stood out because it was such a high compliment and made me realize it wasn't just my biased perception that the panel had gone well:

I also used Storify to try collect Tweets which used our #BYODequity hashtag during the panel. Below is a slideshow of the Tweets I collected.

This conversation was just a beginning. I hope all of the documentation of the session which I am posting here can serve as a starting-place for more detailed conversations which lead to solutions for getting powerful learning technologies into the hands of students.

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.
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